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Habitat For Humanity Of Evansville Honors Del Welte

Del Welte assembles signs for a fundraiser in this August 2014 photo from Habitat for Humanity of Evansville. Submitted photo

Delbert “Del” Welte was a man with a big heart who loved to help people, according to his wife.

Since 1999, Welte volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Evansville.

Thelma Welte said Habibat was a large part of her late-husband’s heart. When they first met, Thelma said she saw how great of an organization Habitat is through his eyes.

Welte, 83, of Evansville, died July 16 at St. Vincent Hospital after complications from an open-heart surgery.

To recognize and honor his nearly 20 years as a Core Crew volunteer for Habitat, the 2018 Catholic Build was dedicated in his memory on Dec. 19. The home is for Donna F., in the 200 block of Grand Avenue, just a block away from the final four Habitat homes of 2018 to bring the total to 500 homes built.

Thelma, Welte’s children and siblings were present at the Dec. 19 dedication.

“His kids are very proud of him,” Thelma said. “I know Del would feel very humbled knowing Habitat – and Rock Reed, his friend who started this – is doing something in his memory. It’s a very humbling experience for me, too. I’m very grateful that they are remembering him for that.”

Welte worked at Servel, and then served in the U. S. Army in Germany, according to his obituary. After his Army service, he was employed at A & H Truck Lines for more than 30 years. He later worked at Pony Express, and then retired from Heritage Liquor.

Welte was a member of St. Benedict Cathedral Parish in Evansville, where he served on the parish’s men’s maintenance group and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He also volunteered at Tri State Food bank for 30 years.

Thelma and Del met later in life at St. Ben’s. She was widowed, and she said he had been single for a while.

“We just hit it off,” she said. “I had five-and-a-half years with a really good man. I had two good men in my life, and I was very lucky.”

When he wasn’t working or volunteering, Thelma said the two loved to read, they both had a Kindle, and they often went dancing.

“It was just nice to have companionship in our older age,” she said. “We were very compatible, and had a lot of laughs. We had a good time together.”

Welte was a man of action, according to Benedictine Sister Jane Michele McClure. She said he may not have been a man of many words, but he was a doer.

Sister Jane Michele, Habitat’s Major Gifts Officer, met Welte when she joined the organization 13 years ago. She believes it’s safe to say he worked on, or was present for, every Catholic home build. He was a loyal hard worker, and she couldn’t remember a time when he was ever in a bad mood.

At Welte’s funeral, Sister Jane Michele recalled Father Ted Tempel saying his death was “‘Sad, and unexpected, but I think we can agree Del would have been a terrible patient. He always had to be doing something. He would not have sat still,’” she said.

Welte was a jokester, Sister Jane Michele said, who could always make you smile and brighten your day.

“When I think of the values of our Catholic faith – What do we bring,” she asked. “We show up. We come. We’re there. We are faithful and dedicated. That was Del. He personified the Catholic faith. … He was highly respected.”

In August, St. Ben’s parishioners signed 2 x 4’s in Welte’s memory. They are part of this year’s Catholic build.

His exemplary service to Habitat was recognized in 2013 when he received the Jim Fowler Construction Volunteer of the Year Award.

Welte had four children from his first marriage: daughters Deborah (Steve) Walter and Brenda (Don) Buescher; son, Leonard (Tonda) Welte; and a deceased son, Vincent, according to his obituary.

Welte is also survived by three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, four brothers and two sisters.

“He was a man of faith,” Thelma said. “He had a great, deep faith in God. I saw that in him immediately when I met him. I thought, ‘this is a good man.’”